by Donald McCaig


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"A bred-in-the-bones storyteller." —Geraldine Brooks

Canaan fills a vast canvas. Its points of reference are Richmond in the throes of Reconstruction; the trading floors of Wall Street; a Virginia plantation; and the Great Plains, where the splendidly arrogant George Custer—Yellowhair—rides to his fate against Sitting Bull’s warriors.

This is the story of America over twenty years of its most turbulent history. The characters are black, white, and red, ex-Union and ex-Confederate; and the principal narrator is a Santee woman She Goes Before who marries an ex-slave. Through her eyes we witness the hanging of her father by whites in the mass execution of 1863, Red Cloud’s banquet with President Grant, and that final confrontation on the bluffs above the Little Bighorn.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393330465
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/05/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 657,316
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Donald McCaig (1940—2018) was the author of many historical novels including Jacob’s Ladder, Rhett Butler’s People, and Canaan.

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Canaan 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Told from multiple points of view -- multiple unrelated characters' sometimes related stories -- but too broad an attempt to highlight so much important U.S. history from the post-Civil War period in a single tome. Consequently there is too little character development to be spellbinding fiction, and too much fiction to permit the appreciation of the actual history the author is trying to illuminate. The closing segment of the book proudly relies on American Indian oral tradition regarding the events leading up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and that provides interesting insight not previously presented to the general reading public. However, the author speaks very little of the career events/judgments of General Custer in the months preceding the battle (although that data has also not been previously presented to the general reading public), and does not draw from any of the contemporary data available in the writings of the soldiers (the publication of one diary from a cavalryman who served under Major Reno, one of General Custer's direct reports, being the only effort I know of to present that data to the general reading public). Too bad - it would have been much more enlightening to see the critical events and pressures on both sides in detail in one publication. In fact, compared with everything which precedes the segment on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Battle of the Little Bighorn appears to be the major emphasis of this book, even though the reader doesn't know that until the end. It would have been much better for the reader had the author focused in as much detail on the other sets of facts making up the basis for this book, although to do so would likely have meant multiple books. As it is, there are snippets of good writing here and there; an ample set of disparate stories to illuminate various segments of the post-Civil War political and economic results of the war in the South, the North, and the new West; and apparently much factual research conveyed in the everyday lives and events of the book's many characters; but nothing really fits together, and one leaves the book remembering certain 'highlights' of fact and character development without really feeling very enthusiastic about having read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strong but flawed characters who represented every spectrum of the post civil war era.